Sociologists = people who look at “boring data compiled during endless research”

If this is how a good portion of the public views what sociologists do, sociologists may be in trouble:

Anthony Campolo is a sociologist by trade, used to looking at boring data compiled during endless research.

Data collection and analysis may not be glamorous but a statement like this suggests sociologists may have some PR issues. Data collection and analysis are often time consuming and even tedious. But, there are reasons for working so hard to get data and do research: so sociologists can make substantiated claims about how the social world works. Without rigorous methods, sociologists would just be settling for interpretation, opinion, or anecdotal evidence. For example, we might be left with stories like that of a homeless man in Austin, Texas who was “testing”  which religious groups contributed more money to him. Of course, his one case tells us little to nothing.

Perhaps this opening sentence should look something like this: time spent collecting and analyzing data will pay off in stronger arguments.

 

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